Neil Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 13 March 1939 and won a scholarship to the Juilliard Music School (the school depicted in the movie Fame) to study as a classical pianist.
He teamed up with neighbour Howard Greenfield to write many songs for other artists – including Stupid Cupid for Connie Francis – and then began singing himself.
Sedaka wrote most of his own hits including his first, The Diary, in 1959, King Of Clowns, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Calendar Girl and Oh Carol (Sedaka’s affectionate tribute to his teenage sweetheart, Carol Klein – better known to the world as singer/songwriter Carole King).
Never succumbing to the pitfalls of stardom, Sedaka lived and worked in his father’s unpretentious Brooklyn apartment, writing over 500 songs before Beatles-influenced music and the British Invasion caused his popularity as a performer to fade.
His composing talent remained much in demand, however, and he wrote for Tom Jones, Andy Williams and The Fifth Dimension.
Always popular in Britain, Sedaka was persuaded in 1971 to perform comeback concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. While in the UK he also recorded two albums with a group called Hot Legs (who became 10cc) then returned to Los Angeles to record a third album – all for the British market.
When Elton John realised Neil Sedaka had no US record deal he signed him to his own label, Rocket Records.
Songs from the three British LPs were combined for Sedaka’s Back (1974) and The Hungry Years (1975), which were both well-received in the US. He also enjoyed his first US Number One hit single in ten years with Laughter In The Rain (1975), followed by another hit with Bad Blood (which featured Elton John on backing vocals).
A hit composition for Captain and Tennille, Love Will Keep Us Together, further enhanced his revived reputation, and his first TV special (on NBC) in 1976 received both critical and popular acclaim.
Since then Sedaka has continued to write, record and perform to full houses in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and around the world.
In May 2003 Sedaka appeared as a guest judge on the TV show American Idol.